School Counseling and the Emotional Wellness of Our Kids

School Counseling and the Emotional Wellness of Our Kids
Headshot of Adam Elder

If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that we need to be paying close attention to the emotional wellness of our kids. The role of school counselors has become more essential than ever in helping students, parents and teachers learn about and address mental health issues that have become exacerbated since the start of the pandemic.

While we are all glad that every student is back in school, things have certainly not returned to normal. Adam and our School Counseling team have had a busy start to the year, addressing several emergent needs as students readjust to in-person learning full time.

Adam reading to Kindergarten students

Adam’s focus is on maximizing school success for all our students by giving them the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills they need to succeed. Adam believes that all students can master these skills. His approach is collaborative, rooted in best practice for Social & Emotional Learning, and tailored to the developmental level of each student.

The School Counseling team consists of Adam, and two part-time School Counseling Interns: Aubrey Cearley, who has been at Westside all school year on Tuesdays and Thursdays (as well as other days in EDP), and Lauren Mathews, who is coming in on Wednesdays. These dedicated interns, Aubrey a grad student at Denver University, and Lauren at City University of Seattle, expand our capacity to meet student needs in more places.

Adam in the middle of a student circle showing a box to a student

In Lower School, the team teaches weekly lessons on social and emotional skills, and has recently started targeting small group support at each grade level. Every student will have the opportunity to participate in these groups that promote deeper connections with others and provide more opportunities for practicing social skills in a structured environment.

In the Middle School, the Student Support team recently administered a brief student support survey to identify student needs at the individual, small group, and whole grade levels. We received a lot of interest in both affinity and support groups, and are in the process of training teachers to facilitate affinity groups. The school is looking to launch support groups soon for students in need of additional support managing anxiety and navigating social dynamics.

5 students meeting in a classroom nook.

Adam is a vital member of Westside’s Educational Leadership Team who has a multi-faceted role at our school. He teaches classroom lessons on Social & Emotional skills, advocates for and provides short-term counseling to students for challenges that impact them at school, as well as provides referrals for long-term support. He collaborates with families and teachers for student success and helps teachers and our Division Heads identify student issues, needs, and challenges. He works to improve equity and access, achievement, and opportunities for all students. Adam has an M.Ed. in Professional School Counseling from City University of Seattle, where he later returned and worked for five years as Adjunct Faculty and remains a member of the Professional Educators’ Advisory Board.

Westside is lucky to have Adam, Aubrey, and Lauren at Westside supporting our children.